Postgraduate research

We are a major centre for research in human geography and planning with emphasis on helping our students recognise their fullest potential in their chosen area of research.

Our international reputation attracts high quality PhD students from around the world, which is reflected in our current cohort of students of multiple origins including Europe, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and all parts of the UK.

We play a leading role in academic and policy debates at national and international levels, and aim to recruit committed research students for the pursuit of innovative, cutting-edge research at PhD level.

We place considerable value on the quality of training for and supervision of our research students. Each research student is allocated two supervisors with expertise in their relevant topic, and is linked to one of the School’s Research Groups. Being a member of one of these groups provides a context in which knowledge about the broad research area can be exchanged, and students are exposed to the wider academic community within the School.

A bespoke package of methods training is designed for all first year PhD students. A regular PhD research seminar programme and two PhD 'Away Days' per year provide our students with opportunities to present their research in a supportive and constructive environment.

We offer postgraduate research in the following four courses:


We are eligible for ESRC funded PhD research and are happy to support the applications of promising candidates in our fields of expertise. For details of eligibility and an explanation of the grant-making process, please visit ESRC Funding Opportunities.

We have been awarded ESRC recognition for 1+3 and +3 PhD programmes. First year PhD students in Geography and Planning can gain the opportunity to undertake a scheme of study directly related to research training in planning, environment and housing. First year PhD students will be expected to undertake some or all of the MSc in Social Science Research Methods. Distinct routes through the course in planning, housing, sustainability, transport and regeneration are available.

Overseas applicants have been funded by the British Technical Assistance programme administered by the British Council, the Commonwealth Technical Co-operation Programme, the Ford Foundation, the World Bank, the EU or their own government or employer. Self-financed students may pay the fees in two instalments.

The University also offers a range of scholarships and bursaries for students starting their studies.


All applications will be reviewed by two members of staff and then if an application is satisfactory, all candidates will be interviewed by the admissions team. Successful applicants will then be made an offer of a place by the Academic Registry. The offer may be subject to the achievement of a satisfactory degree result, or proof of English language ability.

The School may require new PhD students to attend the taught part of the SSRM course or specific modules in their first year. Such a requirement will be specified in the offer made to prospective students. The School may also require new PhD students to achieve an average mark of 60 on the required modules in order to proceed to the second year. If students attend the full SSRM programme successfully, they will be awarded a diploma. Applicants will be given the option to ask for an exemption from any such requirement, if they can provide evidence that they have already acquired the necessary methodological skills. Their request will be reviewed by the PGR intake tutor, the Director of Postgraduate Studies and up to two reviewers, based on the quality of the research proposal and other written evidence provided. In cases where more evidence is needed, an interview with the applicant will be arranged. This can also take place via Skype, videoconferencing or telephone. All international applicants will be interviewed.

Due to the potential longevity of the application process applicants should plan well in advance to ensure that their application can be processed in time for the next academic intake in October. To accommodate this, the School has implemented specific deadlines for PhD applications.

Home/EU applicants

Home/EU applicants will need to have their full applications submitted and acknowledged by 31 May 2017 latest if they wish to be considered for enrolment the next academic year.

International applicants

International applicants will need to have their full applications submitted and acknowledged by 30 April 2017 latest if they wish to be considered for enrolment the next academic year. Furthermore, for international applicants who wish to apply for scholarships that have deadlines in October (e.g. Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme), applicants will need to have at least a conditional offer in place at the time when they first apply for the scholarship. So if they are applying to the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme to start Oct 2018 their application must have an offer attached to it by October 2017, hence they must apply by 30 April 2017.

Evidence of English language is usually required of international students. Arrangements should be made at the nearest British Council office to take an English Language Test (ELTS test), or another appropriate test e.g. TOEFL. We look for the following standard: IELTS minimum overall score of 6.5 with at least a score of 7.0 in the writing section, and no less than a score of 6.0 in other sections. Candidates may be advised that they need additional tuition. Courses are available in Cardiff, varying from a full year to a number of weeks prior to October, each year. More details can be found on our English and Foundation Programmes pages.